Patterico's Pontifications


George Herbert Walker Bush, 1924-2018 [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:36 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Knowing that he had been in declining health, the announcement doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the 41st President, George H.W. Bush, died earlier this evening in Houston. And though he achieved the distinction of being the oldest living ex-President in history, for many of us currently in middle age and older he remains a poignant final chapter of the generation of World War II veterans we grew up with who dominated Washington politics for a half-century, from Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy’s election to the House in 1946 to Bob Dole’s defeat in the Presidential election of 1996.

It seems a little bit silly to sketch out the details of the man’s life, considering they are probably largely known by readers of the blog. The obituary in the Houston Chronicle does a nice job filling in those details, so if anyone needs a refresher I urge you to go there. He led a patrician’s life — son of a Senator, educated at Andover and Yale, country club dances where he met his wife, connections to get him started in the oil business, and entree into GOP politics, and so on.

But, crucially, he had the sense of duty which we once thought was inculcated within the upper classes, but now have cause to wonder if it isn’t passé in this wretched age of Kardashians, Hiltons, and their ilk. He famously went off to war on his eighteenth birthday, flying 58 combat missions and earning distinction as a pilot. After amassing a small fortune in the awl bidness, he entered politics, serving as a Congressman for two terms before moving on to various jobs in the Republican party and with GOP Administrations, culminating with his two terms as Vice President and one term as President.

He was the first Presidential candidate I ever voted for. He wasn’t Ronald Reagan — he didn’t have the stage presence of the Gipper and his conservatism was more tempered and bureaucracy-accommodating than that of his former boss — but he largely pursued a traditional Republican agenda. The two biggest mistakes his administration made were leading the Kurds to believe that U.S. troops would come to their aid and giving in on raising taxes way too early in budget negotiations which probably prevented Republicans from extracting deeper spending concessions from Democrats. On the other hand, the spending limits that he did get in exchange for tax increases ended up vexing his successor during his first year when Congressional Democrats bluntly informed Mr. Clinton that they would have to at least make a semi-legitimate attempt to adhere to the spending caps that had been negotiated, which scotched Bubba’s plans for dozens of new spending initiatives. Based upon what has happened since he left office, a good case can be made that Mr. Bush was overall a successful President.

When he was defeated for reelection in 1992, it amounted to replacing a man whose life had been defined by family, work, and service with one of the worst embodiments of a largely spoiled and selfish generation. Mr. Bush, who sadly turned out to be a rather uninspiring campaigner that year, was disappointed and embittered to lose to a man whom he undoubtedly felt was dishonest and shady. But, ever a true gentleman, Mr. Bush ultimately made his peace with Mr. Clinton and even worked with him on various charitable initiatives during the administration of his son and namesake. He charmed everyone with his self-deprecating humor, his insistence on sky-diving to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, and his justifiable pride in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren.

He’s now reunited with his beloved Barbara, and sadly I don’t think we’ll see the likes of him at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue anytime soon, if indeed ever again. Rest in peace, sir. We miss you already.

UPDATE: The estimable David Burge — “Iowahawk” — reminds us that there is one remaining World War II veteran who is a current head of state.


This Season’s Warm and Fuzzy Holiday Story

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:18 pm

[guest post by JVW]

A heartwarming local tale:

Payless taught fashion influencers a lesson about shoes by opening a fake store that sold Main Street shoes at Madison Avenue prices.

Payless ShoeSource held a launch party in Los Angeles for the bogus label Palessi and invited the fashionistas to sample the merchandise. Payless posted a video of what happened on Facebook.

The VIP shoppers paid as much as $645 for shoes that sell from $19.99 to $39.99 at Payless. The store rang up $3,000 before Payless came clean with the reveal.

One shopper exclaimed, “Shut up! Are you serious?”

The pranked shoppers got their money back and were allowed to keep the shoes.

Their reactions will be featured in a series of commercials.

That’s modern America for you. Once upon a time these gullible “influencers” would have slunked away in bitter embarrassment, but today when you tell them they will be in a commercial they are happy to sign the release form and showcase their pretentiousness to the entire world. I guess Ovid pegged this two millennia ago: spectatum veniunt, lenient spectentur ut ipsae.


There Is No Collusion! OK, Maybe a Bit

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:13 am

This column by Michael Gerson, highlighted by Allahpundit on Twitter, has a nice summary of some of the latest collusion evidence:

In the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, there are at least three offenses that could lead to indictment or impeachment. There is obstruction of justice — which Trump seems to attempt persistently, publicly and shamelessly. There is possible financial corruption concerning Russia on the part of Trump and the imperial family — about which the recent plea deal with Michael Cohen hints. This is likely to be interesting reading in Mueller’s report. And there is the initial matter of collusion with a hostile foreign power to influence a presidential election. This is hardly a fanciful charge, given that Trump, while a candidate, publicly invited Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails as a way to influence a presidential election.

What else do we know related to this charge? We know that Trump adviser Roger Stone allegedly told associates he was in contact with WikiLeaks, the conduit for emails hacked by Russian intelligence. (Stone denies this.) We know that Stone contacted conservative author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, encouraging him to gather information on hacked Clinton emails. We know that Corsi responded to Stone: “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps . . . Impact planned to be very damaging.” (The “friend” in this email — amazingly and disgustingly — appears to be the anti-American cybercriminal Julian Assange.) We know that Stone issued the tweet, “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel,” six weeks before WikiLeaks began releasing 50,000 emails that Russian agents had reportedly stolen from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. And we know, from Corsi himself, that he and Stone conspired to lie about the motivation of this tweet.

Trump is left to claim — which he has now apparently done in written testimony — that he never discussed these matters with Stone or Corsi. This would have required candidate Trump to adopt a strategy of plausible deniability — in this case, encouraging Russian hacking in public but carefully avoiding the topic in private conversations with Stone.

Gerson goes on to discuss how unlikely the prospect is that Trump avoided personal involvement in this matter, given how personally involved he was in the Stormy Daniels payoff, and given that he publicly called for Russia to “find” missing Hillary Clinton emails (I never agreed that he invited Russia to “hack” Hillary, but he did invite them to meddle in the election). Why would he stay personally removed from this nasty work, when he personally involved himself in the Stormy Daniels nasty work? Answer: he wouldn’t.

A disinterested observer, initially inclined to dismiss accusations of collusion, increasingly finds them plausible.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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